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The Trauma and Pain of Abortion after Rape

Much has been made of recent remarks about abortion and rape by Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin. From President Obama to his opponent to the Democrat establishment, Akin is being vilified. He certainly could have voiced his sentiments with more tact, but the demonizing he is undergoing is disingenuous. For the record, let’s look at the offending quote without the accompanying scandal mongering.

“It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, if it’s a legitimate rape, that’s really rare.  The female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said. “The punishment ought to be on the rapist, and not in attacking the child.”

Some of the furor seems to be over Akin’s reference to “legitimate” rape. As police officers know, many reported rapes are later discovered to be false reports, while the real rapes go unreported. Akin didn’t need to differentiate between the two, but his underlying message remains intact. In fact, his last line conveys it quite well.

“The punishment ought to be on the rapist, and not in attacking the child.”

Yet there seems to be an ongoing campaign when it comes to this facet of the only genuine pro-life philosophy – the one with no exceptions. When this topic is discussed there is usually a very quick about-face and the conversation is side-tracked in a completely different direction. This time the red herring is the way the sentiment was stated. Most times the focus is also deflected away from one of the victims – the child! It’s a given that what happens to the woman is an irreparable violation of the very core of her being, yet she is not the only focus. When a child is the product of rape, two victims emerge.

As someone who has experienced the very situation of which Akin is speaking, I feel more than competent to weigh in with my own take. Some months back I shared my story, for the first time after almost 40 years, and it was both frightening and cathartic. Fortunately, my child lived and I have been immeasurably blessed because of it. While no one has the right to question or dismiss a victim of rape, we do need to consider both mother and child. As attorney Rebecca Kiessling, who was conceived from rape, states,

“The Supreme Court has said that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment for rapists and that rapists don’t deserve the death penalty. I don’t think the innocent child conceived in rape deserves the death penalty for the crimes of her father.  It seems to me that is cruel and unusual punishment”.

There is also a second victimization thrust at the woman should she conceive as a result of assault – abortion. The woman has already suffered tragically. That she should undergo another violation, just as permanent, is an unspeakably depraved suggestion. And it comes at a time when she is the most vulnerable. Killing the child within her womb will not erase the assault. In fact, it will compound her victimization. She will mourn for her child long after that child would have breathed and lived. Instead of healing, the woman will have been violated again. This fact will remain with her for a lifetime. Women who have experienced the trauma of abortion, without the violation of rape, are unable to forget. As this woman found, who aborted after becoming pregnant with her rapist’s child, it is actually much worse to live with the compounded trauma of rape AND abortion.

The crux of the true issue lies in the intent of many of those who exhibit the most outrage about this issue. They aren’t exactly known for their sympathy for the plight of women embroiled in an unplanned pregnancy. Their choice is a one way street; their support lasts only as far as the Planned Parenthood doorway. This same crowd shows no compassion for a baby girl who is aborted because of her gender. There is no emotional support to be found for the mother who finds herself in a crisis. That Planned Parenthood facilitates statutory rape of young girls with mature partners isn’t met with moral indignation. They hide behind the false shield of ‘privacy’ and fail to live up to the legal requirement to report this crime. The rights of the parents of a minor girl are also sidestepped and their vain glory comes from ‘beating the system’ and counting their thirty pieces of silver. After all, a major source of their income comes from peddling the death of babies.

Often too, the inclusion of rape/incest is a tool for getting a pro-abortion “foot in the door.” Studies show that conception by rape is a statistically low occurrence – all one time sexual contact has a conception rate of 5% or less. In truth, the vast majority of abortions have no medical basis at all. They are performed electively, often as a means of backup birth control. Abortion proponents know that using victims of rape who have conceived will make a better story to sell abortion-on-demand. Not even those who believe in the right to abortion want to admit that abortion has become a standard for the weakest of reasons or no reason at all. This, too, serves to again victimize those women who conceive from assault, as they are shamelessly used to tug at heartstrings to sell a destructive procedure to the masses.

Honesty and a clear understanding of motivating factors should be openly disclosed. True choice is about having more than one option. In a moral society, life surpasses all other goals. Life reigns supreme among our inalienable rights. Manipulating words and news reports does a disservice to society as a whole. We need more honest dialogue. Even if we don’t agree on the bottom line, I beseech the pro-choice folks to at least employ honest words and not slogans filled with misleading insinuations. In the mean time, we must educate ourselves and then proclaim the truth clearly and often. Don’t allow your silence to be the death knell for a helpless victim of circumstance. We must love them both–mother and child.  Let them live. Let them heal. And let both sides, who insist they care, show true compassion to women who suffer the horror of rape.

 “For Pope Benedict, laypeople and priests don’t need to publicly renounce their Catholic faith to be apostates; they simply need to be silent when their baptism demands that they speak out, to be cowards when Jesus asks them to have courage.” ~Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., of Denver

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About BirgitJ

Birgit is a 50-something cradle Catholic who is passionate about the pro-life movement. She enthusiastically serves on the Diocesan Gospel of Life Committee where she chairs pro-life events and writes pro-life articles. Birgit has been married to her Catholic convert husband, Rick, for 37 years. They have four children and seven grandchildren (all age eight and under). Their frequent visits eliminate any fear of an empty nest! Her vibrant Catholic faith colors every aspect of her life. She also sings in the church choir with her husband and daughter. Other interests include politics, as they relate to ‘Life’, and Church liturgy as well as photography, cooking, and gardening. She can also be found on her personal blog, Designs by Birgit.

  • Colleen - Thanks so much for discussing this issue honestly and presenting FACTS! This has spun out of control as a political talking point, when really, it’s a moral issue.

    I had heard that when Akin clarified his comments, when he said “legitimate rape”, he wasn’t trying to distinguish so much between true and false rape reports, but rather, between forced and statutory rape, since a crime that is categorized as statutory rape is a consensual act. If he had used the word “forced rape” instead of “legitimate rape”, this wouldn’t have been such an issue, It is good to see the fruits that have come from discussion about it, though – when it comes down to it, the woman is pregnant with a baby; does that baby not deserve to live?August 22, 2012 – 6:58 amReplyCancel

  • MyBrokenFiat - Incredibly well-written, insightful and necessary. Thank you so much for sharing so intimate a part of yourself. Bless you!August 22, 2012 – 8:11 amReplyCancel

  • WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON EDITION | Big Pulpit - […] The Trauma and Pain of Abortion after Rape – Birgit J, Catholic Sistas […]August 22, 2012 – 12:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Dan - The hard situation is one that gives a woman the opportunity to be a heroine: to overcome an act of violence with a supreme act of love. The woman who gives birth to a child conceived by rape does what will probably be the most noble thing she ever does in her life. This is corroborated by many testimonies of such women.August 22, 2012 – 2:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Holly Murphy - My son was conceived in a rape. His birth mother’s husband had been sterilized, so they knew he was not the father. She carried the baby, my son, to almost term and then decided that the whole thing had been too hard on her husband and decided to make an adoption plan. I flew across the country to be at the hospital as soon as he was born. I had battled infertility and this was my only (I thought) chance to have a baby. I was desperate for him…her words as we met in person for the first time, sitting together in her hospital room, just the three of us, as she stared at our son chilled my heart, “I never dreamed he would look so much like someone I already love.” After meeting her older son, I knew immediately who she was referring to. despite my fears, she did everything to make me feel comfortable and did carry through with the adoption. 16 years later, we have a complicated relationship. She and our son have spend weeks together. Each summer she takes him into her home or on vacation. The boys are brothers in every sense of the word. She flies him to her home every Christmas so they can spend time together as a family. Her husband began referring to him as the cool little dude shortly after he began talking…Healing happened because they didn’t add additional trauma to an already painful situation. The semantics of the current story are just that, semantics. We sound like spoiled children when we talk about fairness. Life is rarely fair, and it was never meant to be. thanks for sharing your story…
    HollyAugust 22, 2012 – 7:13 pmReplyCancel

  • BirgitJ - What an amazing story, Holly! Thank you for sharing it with us!August 22, 2012 – 7:31 pmReplyCancel

  • Tricia - Thank you so much for writing this article. It is very powerful and I wish I could forward it to everyone who thinks that abortion after rape is the only possible solution (including many Christians unfortunately!) I also read your previous post that tells the story about your son. It deeply moved me and will not be one that I will ever forget. It has made me feel even more determined to do what I can to stop abortion.

    God bless you!August 24, 2012 – 12:41 pmReplyCancel

  • just being honest - I’m sorry, but if I was ever pregnant from a rape I would with 100% certainty have an abortion. Think of me what you will, but I’m much to vindictive to carry around the child of the man I hate for 9 months just to pacify the conscience of strangers who don’t know me.October 19, 2012 – 1:02 amReplyCancel

  • BirgitJ - Although you may feel a 100% certainty that you would have an abortion, it’s difficult to accurately judge what you would do should this happen to you. While I can understand the premise of thinking you’d be too ‘vindictive’ to allow the child to live, an abortion would do nothing to ‘get even’ with the rapist. It would only create another victim. Killing that child would not erase what had happened to you. Instead you’d be reliving not just the violence done to you, but you’d also relive the violence you had done to someone else (the baby)for the rest of your life. As for ‘pacifying’ strangers who don’t know you’, that isn’t the reason for keeping the child. It has nothing to do with what others think – it has to do with what is right and just. It is a sincere effort to not create another innocent victim.

    I’m not sure if you read my real-life experience. I invite you to read my story and perhaps it will help you gain some valuable insight – 19, 2012 – 11:23 pmReplyCancel

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